(USA, 1963; premiere "roadshow" version, 243 minutes; general release version, 191 minutes)

The story of Cleopatra’s rise to the throne of Egypt, and her passionate love affairs with both Julius Caesar and his general Mark Anthony. One of the most celebrated Hollywood train wrecks of all time, due to its inordinately lengthy and troubled production that made it the most expensive film ever made and almost bankrupted Fox, is not the catastrophy its reputation has led one to expect but actually a majestic, literate tragedy of politics and passion that has aged surprisingly well. The film ended up costing $44 million and was in production for five years, its actual shoot begun in England in 1960 under director Rouben Mamoulian and suspended after three months, restarting six months later under Joseph L. Mankiewicz (personally chosen by star Elizabeth Taylor), who also rewrote the script daily during a epic ten-month shoot in Rome’s Cinecittà studios. Mankiewicz wished to split the film into two three-hour parts, but new Fox president Darryl F. Zanuck refused; he allowed a 243-minute “roadshow” version that Mankiewicz considered it the shortest he could make, but slashed it further to 191 minutes for general release.

A Twentieth Century-Fox release. A Twentieth-Century Fox Film Productions production made by the joint venture of MCL Films and Walwa Films. Starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison; also starring Pamela Brown, George Cole, Hume Cronyn, Cesare Danova, Kenneth Haigh, Andrew Keir, Martin Landau, Roddy McDowall, Robert Stephens. Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz; produced by Walter Wanger; screenplay by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Ranald MacDougall and Sidney Buchman, based on works by Plutarch, Suetonius and Appian and on the book The Life and Times of Cleopatra by C. M. Franzero; music by Alex North; director of photography, Leon Shamroy; production designer, John de Cuir; men's costume designer, Vittorio Nino Novarese; women's costume designer, Renie; Elizabeth Taylor's wardrobe designed by Irene Sharaff; film editor, Dorothy Spencer; choreographer, Hermes Pan.


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